Monday 17 July 2023

Road trip in the Balkans - part 2

The first leg of the trip was going to be mostly highway, autoroute or autostrada in the local languages. 
I had asked a friend to sleep over in Bex on Thursday evening, but he ended up having an afterwork so I decided to sleep in my own bed before leaving, which probably was the better choice anyway, given my current quality of sleep. 
In the morning I packed the final items, like my pyjamas and some food from the fridge. I ate a healthy and full breakfast consisting of a lamb yogurt, granola and fruits mixed up. I thought I'd be good for most of the day with that. 
I packed my luggage on my bike, which took me about twenty minutes, turned off my electronics, did a final tour and locked up the place. I climbed on my bike with my backpack on the back and a feeling that I forgot something important. I did a quick mental check and thought I had everything I couldn't buy on the way, like medication. 
My first stop was ten minutes later in Bavois, to pack the backpack on top of the yellow waterproof bag on the passenger seat. There was just not enough space for my backpack and myself between the tank bag and the yellow bag. 
After that it was non stop until Sembrancher, for a last Swiss fuel-up and a cash withdrawal. 
Next stop was the mandatory picture stop on Gran San Bernardino. From there on, I decided to drive on the small roads until the end of the Aosta valley. I ended up continuing doing that all the way across the flatlands west and south of Milano, driving between lush and green rice fields. 
It was a great feeling to be on the road again. When I drive around aimlessly close to home, I get really bored very quickly. But discovering landscapes and roads was a blast. 
After a few hours, I started feeling pain in my right hand and shoulder nerves from holding the speed handle on the bike. I tried relaxing and made a few more picture breaks which helped, but at the end I couldn't take it anymore and the roads were mostly straight anyway by that time, so I took the autostrada for the last 40 km. 
Google Maps tried to lure me several times towards it before that, but I noticed and didn't take the bait. I chose the longer road, but as long as it finds a shorter route, it will constantly reevaluate, which is quite confusing when you suddenly have 5 remaining hours instead of 7.
Arriving in Piacenzia, it took me two rounds in the one way streets until I found a spot to park the bike until I managed to find how to enter the hotel grounds. The streets were densely packed with cars and the spaces in between were for garage doors. 
The hotel was really charming and quaint. 
The rest of the evening was spent between a city walk where a festival was about to start (just a tread too early to get a draft craft beer), a restaurant and some serious back pain. My night was quite unworthy of the words restful sleep and I got up in the morning knowing I did get some sleep, but feeling I didn't. I packed my things, left for the overdue petrol fill at 340 km from the last and left in direction of Parma on national roads and Google Maps wanting to put me on the tangentiale (autostrada). With the distance being quite long, my nerves starting to hurt quite soon, my back pain and my lack of sleep I didn't last long until I subsided. 
There were quite some traffic jams during a very long time around Bologna. Probably for over 40 km. I was able to bypass the worst by doing some bike tricks and arrived in Ancona just after three, in time to get into my contrary escape game hotel. 
I had to click a link to open the front gate, enter a code to get my set of four keys and find the abandoned establishment with breakfast already set up. 
I wasn't hot enough, so I went for a short stroll of one and a half hour around the citadella and managed to find a good view of the old town from up above. 

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